Published: Thu, June 08, 2017
Global | By Maureen Mccoy

Qatar Points to 'Fake News' Amid Diplomatic Crisis


"Leaders pointed to Qatar - look!" the president tweeted.

Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson said on Monday he thought this was all a reaction to "a growing list of some irritants in the region" that "bubbled up to a level that countries decided they needed to take action".

"Perhaps this will be the beginning of the end to the horror of terrorism!" he said.

"Qatar is clearly uneasy about the aggressive new Saudi-US policy that Trump announced in last month's visit to Riyadh", he stated.

The U.S. military began moving into Al Udeid not long after the September 11 terror attacks when Saudi Arabia asked the Americans to leave.

"The president underscored that a united Gulf Cooperation Council is critical to defeating terrorism and promoting regional stability".

The Gulf Cooperation Council, which Trump met with on his trip, comprises the UAE, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar and Kuwait. Moving to Qatar offered the USA military a way of spreading risk across the region.

Momani said Jordan hopes that the Arab countries overcome this "regrettable stage" and resolve the crisis on solid ground, the news agency said.

Qatar relies heavily on food imports, especially those coming over its only land border with Saudi Arabia, which joined with other key Arab powers Monday in cutting off land, sea and air routes into the country.

In Egypt, which also cut diplomatic and transport ties with Qatar, some banks resumed dealing in Qatari riyals after halting trade on Monday, but others appeared to be continuing to limit transactions with Doha.

Qatar vehemently denies the accusations against it, calling them baseless.

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The countries cite Qatar's relations with Iran and what they say is Qatar's support for extremist groups such as Hamas and al Qaeda, as well as the Muslim Brotherhood.

Jakarta on the other hand, has historically sometimes played a mediating role when inter-Arab tensions have flared - particularly between Saudi Arabia and predominantly Shi'ite Muslim Iran.

Donald Trump took sides in a deep rift in the Arab world on Tuesday, praising Middle East countries' actions against American ally Qatar over Daesh even though the tiny Gulf state hosts the largest USA air base in the region.

Sinan Ulgen, a visiting scholar at Carnegie Europe, said that "Saudi Arabia and the UAE have chose to put pressure on Qatar, which so far has seemed to refrain from pursuing equally harsh policies toward Iran". Like earlier administrations, Trump's had kept its concerns private while publicly praising Qatari efforts to stamp out terror financing.

Qatar is the home of the US military's Central Command and its fight against the Islamic State, but Defense Secretary James Mattis said on Monday to questions about the continued fight that he is "positive there will be no implications coming out of this dramatic situation at all". Trump wrote on Twitter. He didn't take sides.

It was unclear how Trump's broadside against Qatar might affect the USA -led coalition fighting IS.

The Pentagon, whose air operations for the Middle East are headquartered at an air base in Qatar, where at least 10,000 US service members are stationed, opted for balance and calming words. And it is trying to galvanize the Arab world to assume greater responsibility in fighting IS, something governments won't be able to do if they're consumed with internal spats.

"We will not take action without central bank guidance, but it is wise to evaluate what you give to Qatari clients and hold off until there is further clarity", said a UAE banker, adding that trade finance had stalled for the time being. Lindsey Graham, summing up America's strategic conundrum. The air base, which has hosted US military aircraft for more than 15 years, is considered a marvel, with some of the longest runways in the Middle East and sophisticated hangars that rise like mountains from the flat desert floor.

Yet a prolonged crisis will put significant pressure on Qatar.

THE United Arab Emirates says ex-pat Brits who show any sympathy towards "ISIS-supporting" Qatar can expect up to 15 years in jail.

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